It happened the other day during my daughter’s basketball practice. The coaches were teaching the girls (1st and 2nd graders) how to set and use screens when one of them blurted out, “Why are we doing this?”
I expected the head coach to respond with something like, “This is what we’re working on”, or “Because I asked you to.” Instead he stopped the drill and explained to the girls why setting a screen was helpful to get them open, which then would give them a better chance to score…and that’s something they all wanted to do.
The way coach handled that situation reminded me of an important communication strategy that I need to bring to your attention today.
Think about all the times you ask your prospects, parents, co-workers, faculty, student workers and others on campus to do something for you. Quite often if you only share what you want done, it can come across like you’re giving orders. And if you explain how they need to do it, it’s like you’re micromanaging.
What if you always explained why something needed to get done?
When you provide the “why” to someone, you educate, motivate, and empower that person. And when they feel like an active participant in something that involves them, and they understand the value and benefit doing it will bring everyone (including themselves), they’re more likely to move forward.
Here are some situations during a typical recruitment cycle when you need to explain the “why”. I want you to ask yourself if you’re consistently doing that now.
- When you want a prospect to visit your campus
- When you want them to complete their application or get you a transcript
- When you want them to come back for an admitted student day event
- When you want them to stop by their high school counselor’s office to talk about outside scholarship opportunities
- When you want them to reply to your email
- When you want them to give you a phone call or answer your call
When people understand the “why”, they’re way more likely to accept the “what”. Take the time to answer and explain the “why”.
And if you’re in a position of leadership, explaining the “why” will help you get buy in on a task or project from team members as well as build team chemistry. When I work 1-on-1 with admissions counselors, tour guides and office staff, as a part of one of our recruiting workshops, “not explaining why” is a common frustration that gets voiced to me.
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